Towards Automated Compilation of Electronic Navigational Charts

Tamer Mohamed Samy Nada
Dissertation Proposal Defense


Friday, May. 28, 2021, 11:00am

Nautical chart generalization is considered a tedious task that requires skilled cartographers to be dedicated for quite a long time, it can take several months to compile a single chart at a specific scale. Hydrographic offices encounter many challenges achieving a perfect compromise for the compilation of their ENCs coverage. Several problems emerge; the production of ENCs is inefficient, time between data availability and product distribution is too long. Inconsistencies between same scale that are mostly visible at the boundaries due to the amount of overlapping inherited from the source paper charts. Moreover, data on the charts that mariners use may not be the most recent the Hydrographic Office possesses despite their best efforts.

Many of these problems are consequences of hand-made charts where, notwithstanding that the drawing tools are now electronic, the process of making the chart is very much the same as it was when charts were drafted on paper. Automated methods for chart compilation are therefore expected to significantly improve the process in terms of speed, scalability, consistency, and quality. It has been a major focus of research in Cartography and GIS environment, as it is considered the future of Nautical Cartography that aims to simplify the representation of cartographic data to suit the scale and purpose of the map. While there has been significant progress in automated cartography in the topographic world, progress in the nautical world has been slower. Some methods for sub-problems (e.g., sounding selection, island selection or contour generalization) have been proposed, there have been few attempts to generate charts at any given scale, directly from the source database, such that products can be constructed automatically with minimal (ideally no) human input.

The proposed research aims to build such a holistic solution. Building on a multi-agent model of interlinked smart cartographic objects, the research aims to translate current cartographic practice and theory into algorithmic building blocks that can iterate and cooperate to find a suitable chart representation for any given area at any given scale, optimized according to criteria learned from current and previous practice. The ultimate goal is to assess how close to a fully automated nautical cartographic solution such methods can come, and to assess deficiencies in current practice that may be improved to support this goal.

Advisor: Brian Calder


Tamer earned his B.Sc. in Naval Science from the Egyptian Naval College, served as a chief officer in the Coast Guard brigade, then as a Captain of a fast patrol gun boat in the Egyptian Fleet. He started his Hydrographic career by earning his (Cat-B) IHO hydrographic course with honors from the Naval Oceanographic Office in the UK, then participated in numerous survey operations as a Hydrographic surveyor in the Egyptian Hydrographic Department. Following the promotion to a Commander in 2009, he completed his first master’s degree in hydrographic surveying from the Arab Academy for Science & Technology “AASTMT” with the trophy for best thesis in Seismic surveying. Thereafter, in 2010 he earned his second Master of Science from the University of Southern Mississippi while completing his long hydrographic course (Cat-A) with the US Navy. In the Egyptian Hydrographic Department, his last post was the chief of the Egyptian Hydrographic division and was responsible for the production of the Egyptian Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs). In 2017, he retired as a Captain from the Egyptian Navy, then worked as a freelancer Geophysical surveyor for FUGRO SAE. He is an active member in the IHO S-101 working group to aid in setting the new standards for the ENC production. In 2018 he started his PhD in the University of New Hampshire and the Center of Coastal and Ocean Mapping CCOM. His point of research is for a fully automated nautical cartographic solution.